COLUMBUS (TDB) -- Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner has filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief with counterparts from Vermont and Missouri that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to scrap Indiana's voter-ID law as an unnecessary burden restricting citizen access to the polls. The Supreme Court plans to take up the case in January.
Ohio has a similar law -- adopted in 2006 after the Bush v. Kerry presidential election -- that requires voters to show some form of idenvtification when they cast ballots. Republicans contend the law will curtail election fraud; Democrats like Brunner say it will disenfranchise the urban poor and keep likely Democratic voters at bay.
John Michael Spinnelli at ePluribus Media correctly notes that the Supreme Court's ruling could have significant impact on the 2008 presidential election.
Brunner and others have said the voter-ID laws are about helping Republicans win elections, not preserving honesty at the polls. They say the Republicans have enacted the laws to control a "non-existent problem," and that there is no proof of widespread fraudulent voting or impersonation of voters. They contend the Republicans, by requiring ID's such as driver licenses or birth certificates be shown at the polls, have erected bureaucratic barriers. Republicans, however, fear cheating and point to 2004 voter registration forms in Ohio that included the names of cartoon characters and phoney addresses.
The complete text of the 31-page brief filed in the Supreme Court is available here. It describes the voter ID law as onerous.
"As officials responsible for overseeing elections under a variety of voter identification laws, amici have special insight into the issue raised by these cases. Their experience shows that there is virtually no evidence of voter impersonation fraud, the stated reason for the enactment of the Indiana law at issue here; that laws like Indiana's will effectively disenfranchise many eligible voters, particularly minorities, women, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor, while doing noting to prevent polling place voter impersonation fraud; and that in their States, and throughout the country, honest elections, free of polling place voter impersonation fraud, are held without onerous voter photo identification requirements of the type imposed by the State of Indiana.
"Amici have a strong interest in preserving and defending the integrity, fairness and openness of the electoral process that lies at the core or our democratic system of government, the legitimacy of which depends on ensuring that all eligible citizens are able to exercise the right to vote. They are concerned that the Court's resolution of the issues in the instant case will have a profound effect on election administration laws and future legislation in states beyond Indiana. They ask the Court to reaffirm the principle that the fundamental right to vote shall not be burdened unnecessarily to remedy an essentially non-existent problem."
Missouri Secretary of State Mary Carnahan issued a press release about the brief earlier this month and said there has not been a single case of voter impersonation fraud in her state in elections going back to 2000. She said a 2006 Missouri Supreme Court ruling struck down that state's voter-ID law. She said the court found that 240,000 people would have to get documents with a photo-ID in order to vote.